Salads


Hot, sultry, and downright oppressive, July has but one redeeming feature: vegetables.  (No, make that two: vegetables and peaches!)  And that bountiful summer harvest is all the sweeter when it comes from one’ s very own garden.  Yesterday’s haul from my modest vegetable patch was the inspiration for this fresh and colorful three bean salad.  Long, slender French gold beans, plump and juicy rattlesnake beans, a few early tomatoes, a fat red onion, and a handful of herbs made planning dinner easy.  A grilled flank steak and cornbread from the freezer rounded out the meal without heating up the kitchen.

Three bean salad with tomatoes and herbs

Serves 6

1/2 lb. green beans, cut into bite-sized pieces

1/2 lb. wax beans, cut into bite-sized pieces

1 lb. tomatoes, chopped (and seeded, if you like)

2 stalks celery, chopped

1/2 red onion, finely chopped

1 15-oz. can red kidney beans or chickpeas, rinsed and drained

10 fresh basil leaves, torn or chopped

10 fresh mint leaves, torn or chopped

3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

3 tbsp. red wine vinegar

Pinch of sugar

Salt and freshly ground, black pepper, to taste

Cook green and wax beans in boiling, salted water until just tender, about 2 minutes.  Drain, run under cold water to stop the cooking, and drain again.

Combine beans and remaining ingredients in a large mixing bowl.  Toss.  Let salad stand at room temperature, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes before serving.

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Sweet corn, juicy tomatoes, smoky bacon, and fragrant basil make a superb summer salad.  Serve with grilled chicken, fish, or steak and crusty bread for sopping up the juices.

Summer succotash

Makes about 7 cups, serving 6-8

4 thick or 6 thin slices bacon

1 1/2 lbs. fresh shell beans in pod (or use 1 1/2 c. shelled, frozen lima or soybeans)

1 small sweet onion, finely chopped

Kernels from 4 ears fresh corn (about 4 c.)

1 1/2 lbs. tomatoes, seeded and chopped

10 basil leaves, thinly sliced

2 tsp. apple cider vinegar

Salt and freshly ground, black pepper, to taste

Cook bacon in a large, non-stick skillet over medium heat until crisp.  Remove to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.  If you’re using fresh beans, shell them while the bacon cooks.  If you’re using frozen beans, pour a kettle of boiling water over them to thaw, then drain.  Place beans in a large mixing bowl.

Pour off all but 2 tbsp. fat from skillet, raise heat to medium-high, and cook onion and corn with a pinch of salt until just tender, about 4 minutes.

Add onion and corn, tomatoes, basil, and vinegar to bowl with beans.  Crumble in bacon.  Toss well, taste, and season with pepper and additional salt, as needed.  Serve immediately.

Crunchy and chewy, tangy and sweet, this fiber- and protein-rich lunch travels well and sticks with you all afternoon.  French green lentils and short-grain brown rice are idea for salads because they hold their shape and don’t get mushy when dressed.  If you can’t find them, brown lentils and long-grain rice will also work.

Lentil and brown rice salad with dried cranberries and orange

Yield:  Makes about 7 cups

1 c. short grain brown rice, rinsed and drained

1 c. French green lentils, rinsed and picked over

2 navel oranges

2 stalks celery, chopped

2 shallots, finely chopped (about 1/2 c.)

1 handful fresh parsley leaves, finely chopped

3/4 c. dried cranberries

3 tbsp. balsamic vinegar

3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground, black pepper, to taste

In a small saucepan, cover rice with cold water by at least 2 inches and season lightly with salt.  Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook, uncovered, until rice is just tender, about 40 minutes.  Drain well and set aside.

In a separate saucepan, cover lentils with 2 inches of cold water.  Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook, uncovered, until lentils are just tender, 15-18 minutes.  Drain well and set aside.

Wash and dry one of the oranges and finely grate its zest into a large mixing bowl.  Peel and segment both oranges, chop the segments, and add them to the bowl.  (The best way to do this is to first slice off the top and bottom, then stand the orange on one of the flat ends.  Following the contour of the fruit and cutting just deep enough to remove most of the outer membrane (but not too much of the fruit), trim off the peel in strips, top to bottom.  When all the peel is removed, hold the orange over the mixing bowl (to catch dripping juice) and cut in toward the center of the fruit on either side of each membrane to remove the orange segments.  Once all segments have been removed, squeeze any remaining juice from the membranes into the bowl.)

Add celery, shallots, parsley, cranberries, vinegar, and oil to the bowl.  Fold in drained rice and lentils.  Season with salt and pepper.  Serve at room temperature.

Root vegetable salads are perfect for early spring, when you want something light and fresh but warm weather vegetables aren’t in season yet.  This bright, crunchy carrot salad is made with dried fruit and seeds from the pantry and chives from the garden.  A little bit sweet, a little bit tangy, it’s mildly addictive and very kid-friendly.

Grated carrot salad with orange and honey

Yield:  Makes about 6 cups, serving 6-8

2 lbs. carrots, peeled and grated

Heaping 1/2 c. currants or raisins

Heaping 1/2 c. roasted sunflower seeds

1/4 c. finely chopped, fresh chives

Juice of 1 large orange (about 1/2 c.)

3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

3 tbsp. apple cider vinegar

1 tbsp. honey

Salt and freshly ground, black pepper, to taste

Combine grated carrots, currants, sunflower seeds, and chives in a large mixing bowl.  In a smaller bowl, whisk together orange juice, oil, vinegar, honey, a pinch of salt and a few grindings of pepper until well incorporated.  Toss salad with dressing and let sit, stirring occasionally, at least 10 minutes before serving.

I’ve made this enormous, easy, and addictive pickled salad twice already since the new year began, in an effort to make good on a resolution to eat fruits and vegetables at every meal.  It’s an old recipe of my grandmother’s that I remember fondly from my childhood, with just a few alterations (fresh green beans instead of canned, bell peppers in place of jarred pimentos).  We like it for lunch, with just about any kind of sandwich.

Overnight vegetable salad

Yield:  A week’s worth, for at least two people

1 lb. green beans, trimmed and cut into bite-sized pieces

2 c. frozen peas

2 c. fresh or frozen corn kernels

1 red bell pepper,  diced

1 green bell pepper, diced

1 sweet onion, diced

2 stalks celery, diced

1-2 jalepenos, seeded and finely diced

1 15-oz. can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained

3/4 c. white or apple cider vinegar

1/2 c. granulated sugar

1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 tsp. paprika

Salt and freshly ground, black pepper, to taste

Blanch green beans in boiling, salted water until just tender, 3-4 minutes.  Meanwhile, measure peas and corn into a colander set in the sink.  Drain green beans into colander with peas and corn.  Rinse with cold running water to stop cooking.  Drain well.

Combine all vegetables and kidney beans in a large mixing bowl.  In a separate bowl, whisk together vinegar, sugar, oil, and paprika until sugar dissolves.  Pour dressing over vegetables, tossing to coat.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste.  Cover and refrigerate at least 24 hours, stirring occasionally.

The nutty warmth of cumin and sweet tang of cider vinegar tame red cabbage’s pungent bite in this addictive, mayo-free coleslaw. If you have one, a food processor with shredding and slicing attachments make quick work of prepping the vegetables.  Otherwise, figure on about 20 minutes of chopping.

Coleslaw with cumin seed and cider vinaigrette

Yield:  Makes about 12 cups

1/2 head red cabbage, cored and shredded (about 8 c.)

4 carrots, peeled, trimmed, and shredded

3 stalks celery, trimmed and thinly sliced

2 red peppers, cored, quartered lengthwise, and thinly sliced

2 bunches scallions (about 10), white and tender green parts only, thinly sliced

1 tbsp. cumin seed, toasted in a dry skillet until fragrant then roughly chopped

1/3 c. apple cider vinegar

1/3 c. extra-virgin olive oil

1 tbsp. honey

Salt and freshly ground, black pepper, to taste

Combine vegetables and cumin seed in a large mixing bowl.  In a separate bowl, whisk together vinegar, oil, and honey with a generous pinch salt and a few grindings of pepper.  Toss vinaigrette with vegetables and adjust seasoning as needed.  Let stand, tossing occasionally, at least 30 minutes before serving.  Leftovers keep well in the fridge for a few days.

Make it vegan: Substitute granulated sugar or agave nectar for the honey.

Chewy, nutty barley combines with colorful vegetables and a sweet-tart vinaigrette in this hearty, nutrient-rich salad.  Blanching broccoli rabe subdues its natural bitterness,  while roasting brings out the sweetness of winter squash and cauliflower.  Festive and flavorful, this salad keeps and reheats well, making it a perfect make-ahead dish for a brown-bag lunch or holiday gathering.

Warm barley salad with roasted vegetables

Yield:  Makes about 14 cups, serving about 8

1 1/3 c. pearl barley

About 1/2 c. olive oil, divided

1 head cauliflower, cored and broken into bite-sized florets

1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 3/4″ pieces

1 large bunch broccoli rabe, stems cut into 2-inch lengths, tops roughly chopped

1 small red onion, finely chopped

8 sun-dried tomatoes, plumped in boiling water, drained, then thinly sliced

1 handful fresh, flat-leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped

1/4 c. balsamic vinegar

Kosher salt and freshly ground, black pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Bring one quart of water to a boil in a medium saucepan.  Add barley and 1/2 tsp. salt.  Return to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer, covered, until barley is tender but still chewy, about 25 minutes.  Drain well of any excess water.  Transfer to a large mixing bowl and set aside.

Line two large baking sheets with foil.  Toss cauliflower florets with about 2 tbsp. olive oil and spread in a single layer on one baking sheet.  Season with salt and pepper.  Toss squash with 2 more tbsp. oil, arrange on other baking sheet, and season.  Bake until vegetables are tender and lightly browned, about 25 minutes.  Add vegetables to barley in mixing bowl.

Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil, season generously with salt, and add broccoli rabe stems.  Cook two minutes, then add tops and cook a minute or two longer, until tender.  Drain, then shock under cold running tap water to stop cooking and set color.   Squeeze broccoli rabe to remove excess moisture, then add to mixing bowl.

Whisk together remaining 1/4 c. olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and a pinch of salt until emulsified.  Add red onion, sun-dried tomatoes, parsley, and vinaigrette to mixing bowl and toss to combine.  Season with additional salt and pepper as needed.  Serve warm.

Salad keeps well in the fridge for about four days.

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